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Football and the Lord's Day

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Jan. 31, 2015

My buddy, Ben, played on the varsity football team and was encouraging some of his teammates to join him for Sunday Mass. He realized that Sunday Mass often fell by the wayside due to the rigors of their football schedule. So what did he do? He asked a priest if he would offer a 9 p.m. Mass on Sunday nights, particularly for football players.

I helped out with the Mass, taking on a leadership role to make it happen week in and week out. I really enjoyed it, for all sorts of reasons; I tended to be more awake at 9 p.m. than 9 a.m.; a lot of my friends from campus would show up too; and the ladies in the crowd looked (and smelled) a lot better than the dudes I hung out with.

Then, one cold Minnesota day in January it occurred to me, “Uh oh. What about the Super Bowl?” I had never missed a Super Bowl in my life. I knew that, if I kept my duties at the Sunday night Mass, I would miss a good chunk of the game - the most important part of the game at that.

Would it have been the worst thing in the world if I asked someone else to take over for me that week, perhaps someone less obsessed with sports? No. There are plenty of other Masses I could have attended. Sunday, of course, is to be a day of rest, and there are few things I find more relaxing than reclining on my leather couch for some football. (Unless I’m watching my Vikings, in which case there’s nothing relaxing about that.)

But, I realized that it was good for me to keep my commitment and miss the second half of that Super Bowl. It was a nice reminder for me that, when it came down to it, Sunday is the Lord’s Day, not my day. It’s definitely not football’s day or the Viking’s day. (That’s never truer than on Super Bowl Sunday.)

Come to think of it, I need to be reminded constantly that I’m not the center of the universe. That’s what the Lord’s Day is for, after all. From what I can tell, it’s to remind us that there is indeed a Lord of the universe, and I am not he.

Although I don’t help with the 9 p.m Mass anymore, that experience has stuck with me. This year, I’m planning a Super Bowl party, and it’s going to be great. I’ve only invited a few people, and I’ve warned them ahead of time; this isn’t just another social gathering. Be prepared to watch the game. Oh, and please bring some guacamole.

That means I still have to plan when I’m getting to Mass, because it’s going to be a bit of a challenge.  I have to work Saturday evenings on occasion, and of course this had to be one of them.  Then, there’s the family ritual where all the Huss males bundle up for boot hockey every Sunday morning in the winter at 8:45 a.m.

So, that means I leave boot hockey early, risking familial exile, or get up for the 7:30 a.m. at good ol’ Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the Slavic-turned-Hispanic parish in the neighborhood. Which reminds me, I had better go brush up on my Espanyol.

Sounds like a lot of work for a Sunday Mass. Won’t God understand if I miss it just this once? Sure, he’ll understand. I can’t help but think it’ll be very clear to him that I put running around with sticks on a frozen pond, watching a bunch of random dudes ram into each other on TV, and, of course, a little extra sleep ahead of him.

But I’m not about that. So I’ll be there at 7:30 a.m. this Sunday, and it will be the most important thing I do all day. Feel free to join me.